Whether you have already found the joys of meditation and mindfulness or are just a little intrigued, then a great place to practice being mindful is when walking. Mindful walking helps to strengthen concentration, makes you more aware and connects you to the present moment, whilst bringing you closer to nature and your body. After mindful walking you should feel much more clear headed, more relaxed and even happier and more content.
So how do we actually go about mindful walking you might ask? Here are our 3 top tips.
Choose comfortable clothing and shoes to wear so that these don’t become a distraction, pick your route and head on out. Start with a gentle walk, take a couple of deep breaths in and out and focus on your body, have a scan of it from your toes right up to the top of your head. Which areas feel tight, painful, uncomfortable? Do any areas feel good, how’s your energy level? What is the temperature like, is the wind tossing your hair, can you feel rain on your skin? Listen to your body and find the pace that’s going to suit you today.
You can then switch your focus to your outer surroundings, what terrain are you walking in; are your feet crunching through leaves in a wood, swishing through long, wet grass or maybe your in a town or city and are aware of other people, cars, smells from restaurants. What noises are around you, bird song perhaps or car horns?
Immerse yourself in your environment and the exact moment that you’re are in.
2.Bring yourself back to the moment
If you find your mind wandering off to what’s for dinner or what you’re going to wear out tonight then don’t worry, this is a completely normal, your role is to just bring your thoughts and focus back to the present moment.
When you first start mindful walking you may find your mind wanders off easily but really don’t worry, just each time you realise you’ve lost your focus in the present moment bring your thoughts back. We call it practicising meditation for a reason, our minds literally need to practice staying focused and aware.
Some people find just recognising that their presence in the moment has slipped and re-focusing will work, some people need a little more. I’ve heard some say when they notice that their thoughts have gone elsewhere they like to physically stop in their tracks, take a deep breath and re-focus. You may find you need to do this many, many times, but please don’t think that this is a bad thing, if you continue with your mindful walking practice you will notice these instances becoming less and less.
Don’t fall into the trap of giving up at the first hurdle and saying ‘oh I just don’t think I can do meditation’ – the thing with meditation and mindfulness is that there really are no right and wrongs, the more you do it the easier you will find it to slip into this focused and present way of being.
3.Enjoy your mindful walking and learn from it.
Try not to put too much pressure on yourself, relax into it and enjoy being present. Ask yourself questions; what are you noticing going on around you, have you seen your usual stomping ground in a slightly different light because you were present and aware where as before you may have chatting on the phone and dreaming of a hot beach somewhere?
What about your body, have you noticed anything during this walk, is your right ankle a little sore from a fall you had a week ago? Do you need a hot bath tonight to soak your muscles?
Try and notice feelings and emotions you have along the way. Perhaps the sound of a child singing in the park made you smile, or the sun’s rays from behind a cloud made you feel uplifted.
You may like to expand your mindfulness to other aspects of life too and find yourself much more aware of your surroundings at other points, without even having to tell your mind to do this.
Once your walk is over then have a little think about how you feel, was it lovely to switch off your brain from the rest of life for a while and just be completely in the moment with yourself, your body and your immediate surroundings? Does your head feel a little clearer and ready to take on some of those challenges that had been playing on your mind?
We hope you enjoy your mindful walking and really feel that you gain from it, and just remember, don’t put pressure on yourself, don’t worry about whether your doing it right or wrong, just get out there and do it!
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